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Smart Growth Hall Of Fame 2001
Ten Examples Of Good Planning Decisions In Colorado

J. Wellington Development
Affordable Housing Community
Breckenridge, CO

History of Land: The Wellington Development resides on an 85-acre parcel of land off of County Road 450 and Hwy 9, just north of Breckenridge. With 122 single-family homes, the community lies less than 1 mile from the Breckenridge town center. Breckenridge annexed the 85 acres to avoid county zoning that would have allowed only 4 units on the property. The site immediately adjoins the Town's new rodeo grounds and the Arapahoe National Forest.

Housing developments in Breckenridge are often geared towards higher income households due to the scenic landscape, recreational opportunities, and high-end tourist economy. Similar to other resort towns, Breckenridge suffers from a shortage of affordable housing for community and service workers that live year-round in Breckenridge. Often, workers must seek housing in other more affordable communities, often forcing them to commute long distances to work.

In addition, Breckenridge and Summit County recently entered into an intergovernmental agreement that created a Transfer of Development Rights program (as mentioned on pages 21-22 of this report) in which potential development is transferred from the backcountry to the town of Breckenridge. While this may put additional development pressure on the town, the Wellington development illustrates that the town is capable of implementing a smart growth agenda by combining aggressive growth management in areas the community wishes to protect while also addressing the needs of the community in terms of housing affordability.

Elements of Good Planning: The Wellington Development demonstrates a joint effort to implement smart growth and good planning from both the Town of Breckenridge and the developer, David O'Neil. When approached with the Wellington development proposal, the Town Council recognized the proposal as offering quality affordable housing. Eager to make this development feasible and affordable, the Town waived planning and inspection fees, gave the developers free water taps, and subsidized sewer taps. These regulatory incentives are smart growth tools that can be used to encourage desired development such as affordable housing. Also, to allow the community-oriented design of the development, the council waived some standard land-use requirements-such as alley and road widths.

As for the actual development, Wellington displays several smart growth characteristics, such as:

  • Quality Affordable Housing. The Wellington Development offers 98 units of affordable housing for full-time residents, workers, and families of Breckenridge. The remaining 24 units are priced at market value, approximately $375,000. The affordable units range from $110 to $180 per square foot. In town, the same units would be sold for $300 to $400 per sq ft. To qualify, buyers must work at least 30 hours a week in Summit Co. and agree to deed restrictions that limit increases in the resale value of their homes to the greater of 3 percent a year or the percentage increase in the area's median income.
  • New Urbanist community design uses design techniques that create a more community-oriented neighborhood. Wellington utilizes New Urbanist principles to create a Victorian style neighborhood with front porches, alleys in back, and houses situated close to the narrow streets to de-emphasize the automobile and encourage neighborhood interaction. The developer strategically created a higher density neighborhood with community open space and a network of trails that connect to the adjacent Forest Service land.
  • Preserve open space within the development. A total of 20 acres, including a 5 acre parcel filled with 100 year old blue spruce and a wide swath of land along French Creek was set aside as open space.

Involved Parties: Town of Breckenridge and a trio of developers, David O'Neil, Tom Lyon and John Wolf (www.poplarhouse.com)

Location: The Wellington Development is located opposite the intersection of Wellington Road and Golden Run Gulch Road. Approximately 1 mile east of the Courthouse, about a 15-20 minute walk from downtown Breckenridge.

Status: Approximately 40 of the affordable homes have been built and sold. Five more homes are currently for sale and the rest are under construction.

Colorado Sprawl Action Center - December 2001